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Developing Their Constituency: What Public Representatives Can Learn from PM Modi

PM Narendra Modi addresses a gathering in Varanasi on Thursday. (PTI)

PM Narendra Modi addresses a gathering in Varanasi on Thursday. (PTI)

Despite his numerous responsibilities as India's Prime Minister, over the past 7 years, he has showered his love and attention on the people of Varanasi.

As a Member of Parliament from Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ushered development into his constituency in a big way. This began right from 2014 when he was first elected from this parliamentary seat, and it still continues. Kashi is regarded as one of the most ancient and bustling cities in the world. And PM Modi has succeeded in developing this place by keeping its mood and culture intact. This is a lesson for those MLAs and MPs who get elected but fail to meet the aspirations of their electorate.

As the local MP, the Prime Minister reached Varanasi on Thursday to present to the world some of the key development projects he started there, including a convention centre called Rudraksh, and a hospital. He commenced his speech with the chant of “Har har Mahadev". PM Modi usually does not begin his public addresses like this. But this was a special occasion. More than as the Prime Minister, he was in Kashi as its Member of Parliament. If you understand the mood of Kashi, then “Har har Mahadev" here has the same status as “Bharat Mata Ki Jai" in the rest of the country. So, it was natural for him to utter the words.

Modi has visited his constituency 27 times in 7 years

PM Modi’s visit to his constituency was not unusual. Thursday’s visit was his 27th in 7 years, which comes to around four times a year. Many previous Prime Ministers did not visit their constituency even once a year. Had the Covid pandemic not been around, his number of visits would have been more. PM Modi was in Varanasi after a gap of eight months as he did not want to upset the healthcare protocol due to frequent visits. When the situation became normal, only then did he embark on the trip.

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During the pandemic, Modi still looked after the affairs of Kashi

He may not have visited the place in eight months but the Prime Minister was constantly in touch with his constituency through videoconferencing and regularly reviewed the situation there. From arranging beds and oxygen in hospitals to vaccination, he was always with the people of his constituency through the pandemic by instructing officials.

He keeps himself informed on a daily basis

Sunil Oza, UP BJP co-incharge, is the man who oversees the development projects in the Varanasi parliamentary constituency. He says that not a day passed without Modi taking stock of the progress. But these things are always kept away from the public eye. Despite being so busy with the affairs of the country, he never fails to get information about what’s going on in his constituency.

Varanasi is a changed city in 7 years

In the past 7 years, Varanasi has changed beyond recognition. At one time, this city was identified with widows, stray cattle, innumerable stairs and sages. As the world’s oldest living city, Kashi is in the heart of every resident and admirer. But this bustling city was earlier widely known for its narrow streets, filth, dangerously hanging electric wires, stinking drains taking all the sewage to the river Ganga, and ghats full of garbage. This was the condition of Varanasi when 7 years ago PM Modi decided to fight his parliamentary elections from here.

Residents were worried that Modi would give up Varanasi

When Modi decided to be the Lok Sabha candidate from Varanasi, many thought this was an election ploy to entice the people of the country’s most populous state. They thought he would give up Varanasi and retain his Vadodara seat as nobody had any doubt that he would win from both constituencies with a Modi wave sweeping the country.

Modi went with Varanasi instead of Vadodara

Modi, however, chose Varanasi over Vadodara. He proved that ‘Maa Ganga’ had called him to Varanasi and he wasn’t going anywhere. The PM is an old Bholenath devotee. Right from his birthplace in Vadnagar where he worshipped Shiva, the whole world saw Modi sitting in a cave in deep contemplation in Kedarnath around the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and felt his devotion for Mahadev. He never forgets to visit the temple of Vishwanath in Kashi to get the Lord’s blessings.

Modi has lived up to the expectations of the people of Kashi

Kashi has elected Modi twice – in 2014 and in 2019. This was an entirely new event for UP. The state had been represented by eight Prime Ministers before this – Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Chaudhary Charan Singh, Rajiv Gandhi, Vishwanath Pratap Singh, Chandra Shekhar, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee who got elected from state capital Lucknow.

Former PMs did not take good care of their constituencies

Most of the previous PMs did not do anything substantial for their constituency. Nehru’s Phulpur, Indira Gandhi’s Raebareli or Rajiv Gandhi’s Amethi– nothing much was done to uplift those places. When these leaders who served lengthier terms did not do anything to speak of, then what can be said about Charan Singh, Chandra Shekhar and VP Singh. They did not give anything back to the public of the area who elected them more than once. These people have nothing to be proud of. Of course, Vajpayee did focus on Lucknow.

Modi takes his role as people’s representative seriously

Modi is different. As a CM and now as PM, he is of the view that you cannot play around with the sentiments of the people of your constituency with excuses of being busy. They have elected you. This is the reason that as a CM for more than 12 years, Modi developed his constituency Maninagar in Gujarat and it was the standout model of development in the state. The place has everything from education infrastructure, to hospitals, sanitation, and good roads.

Like his assembly seat, Modi had a blueprint for his Lok Sabha constituency

Modi has used the same template of development for Varanasi that he employed for his assembly seat Maninagar. He was first elected in 2002 for the Gujarat assembly and became an MP in 2014 from Varanasi. And he has kept the same formula of development intact.

Modi has successfully developed Kashi in a big way

PM Modi has been largely successful in his endeavour. If one looks at what he has done in 7 years in Varanasi, this becomes evident. Varanasi city today has broad roads, and there’s no filth strewn around. The ghats of Ganga are tidy and even the river itself is comparatively cleaner and has no drain spewing sewage into it.

All-round development of Varanasi

A ring road has been developed in the city, the road linking Babatpur airport has been broadened. The travel time between Kashi and Prayagraj has been reduced due to a better road with six lanes. Now it takes only one and a half hours to reach Kashi from Prayagraj.

Varanasi train stations look like airports

The railway stations in Varanasi have also undergone a radical facelift. The stations, in fact, now resemble an airport. Modi has revamped all 84 ghats in Varanasi, with better lighting and sanitation. Most of the electric wires have been put underground and electric poles have got a heritage look. All this was made possible by PM Modi.

Kashi Vishwanath compound has undergone radical transformation

When the holy city of Kashi is talked about, the conversation begins with Baba Vishwanath. Before Modi got elected from here, the compound of the Vishwanath temple was only 2,400 square metres in area. Today, with all the development in place, the compound is more than 50,000 sq m. All the residential units and shops around have been removed with public consent and 76 temples have been found among them, which have also been revamped. These temples used to be a part of Baba Vishwanath’s vast durbar. It was very challenging for people to go to the Ganga from Vishwanath temple. But after seven years of PM Modi, now you can take a bath at Lalita Ghat and come to the temple directly with ease. The route to Panchkosi Parikrama has also been repaired. Half a dozen villages in Modi’s constituency have been converted into model villages under the Sansad Adarsh Gaon Pariyojana that the PM initiated, and it all began from Jayapur village.

Facilities for tourism have got special attention

Special attention has been paid to promote tourism in the city. The connectivity of Kashi has improved through rail, road and air. Cruise services are operating in the Ganga and PM Modi has also initiated the Ro-Ro ferry services. Everywhere in the city, electronic boards are being fitted to provide information and underscore the significance of the tourist spots in Kashi. They also relay the Ganga Arati and Baba Vishwanath Arati for everyone to see.

Now Varanasi is a healthcare hub

Modi has always prioritised education and health. On Thursday, he launched blocks of more than 100 beds for women and children in BHU as well as other institutes and also inaugurated a regional hospital of ophthalmology. Before this, a trauma centre was already inaugurated in BHU, which has state-of-the-art facilities, and all the hospitals in the city have been revamped. Today, people of Varanasi need not go to Mumbai and Delhi for the treatment of deadly diseases like cancer as their city has the most modern healthcare facilities. Even people from eastern UP, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh come here for treatment. PM Modi knows this, and that is why he has painstakingly developed the health infrastructure in the city.

Efforts have been made to increase employment opportunities

The city has been given the gift of polytechnics. A Deendayal Hastkala Sankul has been started with the most modern trade facilitation centre for the handloom sector of Varanasi, which is renowned for the Banarasi Saree. It should be remembered that when Modi was here in 2014 to fight the Lok Sabha elections, the local weavers were communally provoked by the Congress and AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal to gang up against him. The PM has also set up a special Haat for farmers of the area so that they can sell their produce through this anywhere in the country. Today, the farmers of Varanasi are sending their produce, like fruits and vegetables, to foreign countries.

Rudraksh: A centre for music

Kashi is the city that most closely represents the culture of India. Music is in its heart. From tabla to vocal singing, the city has had a rich tradition. Considering all this, PM Modi inaugurated the Rudraksh Convention Centre. It has a capacity of more than a thousand people and this centre can also host national as well as international meetings, seminars and exhibitions.

Projects worth Rs 8,000 crore underway

Modi inaugurated projects worth more than Rs 1,500 crore on Thursday. But even before this, he has unveiled dozens of other projects in the past seven years. Modi informed the people that various projects worth more than Rs 8,000 crore are at different stages of completion. The people of Varanasi now know that Modi does not visit the city as a mere formality. This never happened before. Projects were previously inaugurated but were never completed in the tenure of the people who unveiled them.

Modi puts emphasis on completion of projects

The PM has ensured that if he lays the foundation of a project, then he is the one to inaugurate it. This has helped in the timely completion of projects. Modi has been doing this since his days in Gujarat when he was the chief minister. He would fix the date of inauguration the day he laid the foundation of a project.

Development projects in Varanasi fast-paced

Modi has ensured this not just at the national level but also in his Lok Sabha constituency, Varanasi. The Rudraksh Convention Centre has been completed with the assistance of the Japanese government. It was started five years ago and is ready despite the Covid pandemic. Modi inaugurated this centre in the presence of the ambassador of Japan. This was a rare combination of ancient meeting modern. Modi had given the call of “Kyoto to Kashi", and within seven years this has been realised. The old Kashi in all its glory is intact, with a modern look. Kashi is still the flagbearer of Indian Sanatan culture.

Modi has set an example for public representatives

Bridges, roads, electricity, water, gas, lighting, health, sanitation, tourism, education, employment, parking: all these areas are getting new benchmarks in Varanasi under the leadership of its public representative who is also the PM of the country. This shows that if an MP wishes, he can do a lot for his constituency, and Modi has set an example in this regard. The Prime Minister does not live in Varanasi, but the development work he has initiated does not stop. By arranging such facilities for the people, he has also listened to their voice. Anyone from the constituency can file a complaint and the problem is solved within a given timeframe.

Modi begins his speech in Kashi with ‘Har har Mahadev’

The people of Kashi, who before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections were concerned that the PM would not be able to devote time to his constituency, have got a pleasant surprise. In the past seven years, as the local MP, the Prime Minister has showered his love on the people of this ancient city. It is out of this love that, without caring a bit about his detractors, Modi chants “Har har Mahadev" in Kashi at the beginning and the end of a speech. He also speaks a few lines in the local dialect. If public representatives take a cue from Modi and develop their constituencies, winning elections will never be a problem for them. And they will not have to run from one corner of the country to another in search of a safe seat, as we have witnessed with some dynastic politicians in India.

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first published:July 16, 2021, 20:14 IST